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tv   Believer  CNN  April 9, 2017 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT

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have you ever lost your country to extremists? to religious conservatives who have changed the very fabric of your society? i have. in 1979, my family was forced to flee iran after a revolution transformed that country from a secular state to a religious one now i see a disturbing trend in israel that reminds me of what i lived through back then. a fundamentalist anti-modern religious minority that's growing at an alarming rate, entering into government and challenging the secular nature
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of the country. will the ultra-orthodox jews transform israel into a religious state or will the religious secular jews be able to maintain the democratic of the country's founders? i'm in jerusalem to immerse myself in the world of the ha redeemed. >> aslan is a scholar. >> professor aslan is a scholar, a muslim and american. >> what is your reaction? >> i've been studying the world's religions for 20 years, and now i'm going to live them. ♪ >> i have to be honest, there's a lot of conflicting feelings
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involved in being here because no matter what i say, no matter what i do, someone is going to get pissed off. this contested piece of land is the quintessential third rail, and you just don't want to touch it because you can't win. and, so, this episode is the one that is in many ways the hardest for me to do. because although there is a big, huge undeniable conflict here, we're here to talk about a completely different conflict, not a conflict between israelis and palestinians, but a conflict among israelis over what it means to be a jew in a state for jews. at the founding of the state of israel, there were about 30,000 haradi. today there are more than
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800,000. that's about 13% of the jewish population of israel. part of that population surge has to do with their high birth rate. there are about six to seven children per average in a haredi family. some families have upwards of 10, 11, even 15 children. by 2030, the haradi population will be approximately 20% of all jews in the state. it's also a relatively poor population, and that's primarily because men in the households tend not to work. they spend their days studying the torrah and the talmud. it takes state funding, welfare as we call it. this creates an enormous amount of resentment among many secular
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jews when it comes to them because this is a community that takes and takes and takes from the state but doesn't give anything back. you see, for the most part, every man and woman in israel serves in the military for a couple of years. but not the haradi. they have an exemption because they are studying in yeshiva, they don't have to serve in the military. in a view of a lot of secular jews, they are not sharing the burden of defending the state of israel against its enemies. this wouldn't be a big deal if they more or less excluded themselves from israeli society and from politics, but they don't. on the contrary, they have been voting in droves. they have their own political parties, the ultimate -- ultra-orthodox party. this has created an enormous gulf between the seculars and the ultra-orthodox. this is one of the lar jest haradi neighborhoods in
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jerusalem. i was advised not to walk around here without a local escort. us outsiders are not welcome. so, i called up my friend ari aton, a theologian and activist who grew up in a family and spends his time promoting dialogue between the seculars and the haradi in israel. i've heard that a lot of them, that their phones, even their smart phones are filtered, they are not connected to the internet. >> not only the internet. there is this kind of culture you can only make phone calls and not even receive text messages. >> it's all about keeping the world at bay.
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it's all about that. what's all this? >> this is the internet. >> this is the haradi internet? >> this is the portal. you have different announcements. this is an announcement of the rabbi that passed away. it's an old word from yiddish. >> these posters are just a way for an insulated community to communicate with each other? so, i've heard that even with some of these, they can actually be very personal in nature, almost like, you know, so and so showed too much leg. or, you know, something like that. almost a shaming, public shaming. >> it's a low-tech style of shaming. >> almost a way of policing the morals of the community. >> it can be a sanction, yes. >> what's this? >> oh, here it actually says life is beautiful to those who smile. >> this is like hi ppi haradi.
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>> yes, i would say this. >> that's funny. >> here we see more. you can see the handcuffs. it says go to the prison and not to the army. if you go to the army, this is spiritual elimination. >> in recent years, laws have been passed to compel the harad eem into military service. the implementation of those laws continues to be delayed. partly this has to do with the power that the ultra-orthodox have in the israeli government. he is more than one of a dozen ultra-orthodox members of the parliament. he is also the minister of health. from what i understand, your rabbi was the one who actually encouraged you to enter into politics. did that create any conflict for you at all? >> we never have personal goals. we always have the goals from
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the rabbi. we have a counsel session. they tell us how to vote. >> do you understand how that might concern some people in israel, that you are not really separating religion and politics? >> so, that's their problem. >> so there's a conflict. so what? >> but you're not just a member. you are also the minister of health which means your responsibilities are to every single israeli citizen regardless of how they see the torrah. >> how come the polls and the surveys i was voted last week the best minister. we try to make the nation of
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israel, the torrah is the example. we are god's people. we do bhat torrah says. >> you recognize there are many, many, many jews, perhaps millions of jews in israel who do not share your religious views. >> so. in the meantime they live abroad, i live here. they have to decide what they want. experience amazing. like @pigskinsusan15, who writes, "now my boyfriend wants to talk on sundays. just so many words." your boyfriend's got it bad. maybe think about being single until the start of the season.
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the haredim trace their roots, they adopt traditions. a group of conservative rabbis rejected modernity in favor of a strict interpretation of their most holy scripture, the torah, the first five books of the hebrew bible, or old testament. they shut themselves off from the world, choosing to live in closed communities and dress in
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traditional garb that they felt allowed them to maintain a distinctly jewish identity. all of this made the haredim easy targets for european anti-semitism and they were almost completely wiped out in the holocaust. some who survived fled to palestine. after the creation of israel in 1948, the haredim at first wanted nothing to do with politics or government because of the secular nature of the state. over the years, however, that has changed as they have begun to exert their influence to transform israel into a state that's more reflective of their religious ideals and values. i have arrived in the city, a strong hold in israel. i'm here to interview a religious jew. she's not ultra-orthodox docks. she's fighting back on haredi
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attempts to impose their ideals on the non-haredi of the city. it's funny, normally when we would do a shoot like this, we would get out of the car, shoot a lot of b roll, but we've been told on no uncertain terms that if we get out of the car in these neighborhoods, we will be immediately attacked. how long ago did you guys move here? >> 15 years ago. and it was such a nice mix and diverse, and i really felt that this was such a healthy place to raise my children. but if i were to get out now for more than two minutes, i would be surrounded by kids screaming at me that i'm a whore and a slut. they teach the kids to do that. this is the sign.
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women are requested to refrain from passing or lingering on this sidewalk. >> the presence of women on this sidewalk is considered by the men here to be offensive. >> let's keep going if you don't mind. i don't want to cause too much -- >> keep sniffing. they're sniffing. this mall, this was built about 12 years ago, and the modesty police, they sabotaged the construction. they poured concrete down the pipes and they threatened the workers. >> the modesty police? >> they're a self-designated policing group that has decided that they are going to enforce the norms. >> you yourself have been attacked on a number of occasions.
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you said somebody threw a rock at your head. >> yes. >> people have spit on you. >> yes. >> but it's not just women who have been attacked, but children as well. >> when my daughter was in second grade, the schools moved into this building. and one of the most extremist groups decided they wanted the building for themselves. >> they don't want to mix in any way, no mingling at all. >> no. this was a nice building, and it was close enough to their neighborhoods. they were just starting to populate these buildings here. they would block the sidewalks, spitting at the girls, screaming at them. they threw bags of urine at them. >> bags of urine? >> absolutely disgusting. >> this is extreme eden by haredi standards. >> they have their own law. they have their own law. >> i have to say, it sort of sounds like you're describing iran. >> no, it's not iran. i'm not afraid that someone is
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going to arrest me in the middle of the night. it's not iran. the law is on my side. the courts are on my side. >> so, when people tell you that, you know, if this town is becoming unbearable, then why don't you move? >> it's our home. we don't want to give up on it so quickly and we don't feel we should have to just by giving in to bullies. that's not legitimate. it's not legitimate to ask that of me or expect that of me. >> it's shabat, the sabbath, the jewish day of rest. i've been invited to spend it at
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the home of a secular couple. two architects who were born and raised in jerusalem. >> i'm going to do it in the same style that my father used to do it, although i am secular, and i'm not really connected to it. ♪ >> you grew up in this house. what was it like when you were growing up? >> the street was completely secular. >> the whole block, i think. >> but we are the only non-religious family in this -- >> that was left. >> growing up completely secular neighborhood, not far from here, that when i moved there in '98 or '99, there were no religious felonies. seven years later we moved out because every shabat, our neighbors would throw -- use diapers and rocks at our car. >> we are losing. >> if you are talking about demographics, yeah, you're losing. >> i do think that less secular jews feel that somehow the haredi communities do not contribute. >> do you think the haredi should serve in the military? >> and this guy doesn't go.
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he's going to face serious risk. i'm not going to sleep at night, but he's going to sleep great and get money from the government, why? the society is united. we should aim for people to take part equally. >> we always complain about it, that we are not unified, and the orthodox jews and the rabbi, whatever he says, they will do and they are unified. and we cannot do it because there is no secular rabbi. there is no secular rabbi. [ laughter ] for adults with advanced non-small cell lung cancer,
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i've been invited to the home of shifra and her husband's home. >> you're shira, right? >> as with ultra-orthodox families, he does not work. he spends six days a week studying the torah. like most women, she is the primary bread winner in the household. she works full time as a psychologist. she cooks, and cleans and cares for their three children who has only recently begun his studies in the torah. so, let me ask you about the law here. >> they're all great rabbis. >> in a way these rabbis are role models not just for you, but your children. >> yeah, and we left one, and we tell our children, that's where you're going to be. >> only her sons have a shot of
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making the wall. women in the haredim are forbidden from becoming rabbis. her daughter will receive some schooling and then like her mother, she'll be expected to marry young, to have children and work full-time to support the family financially so that her husband can devote his life to studying the torah. >> i was born in the states. it is easier to live as a haredi here than there, because there you are full of distractions. >> would like to see this state be a little more forceful in applying halaka? >> yes, that should be the direction we should be taking. >> when i talk to secular israelis, i can't help but sense a kind of resentment. >> i don't think that attention is avoidable. if you claim ownership on this land, it's only because it said in the bible that god gave it to
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abraham, isaac and jacob. the same torah gives you a whole bunch of other things you have to do. i can't lie. i can't look at secular person in the eye and say, that's okay, you don't have to keep shop, that's okay. i can't lie. >> while she prepares dinner, i take a break to walk sha loem to the evening study. how old is your youngest? >> 11 1/2. >> what kind of school does he go to? he goes to a yashiva school, i imagine? >> he starts at 5:30, a ten-hour day. >> does he get the secular education? >> the very basics, math. one hour will be on secular studies. >> do you worrisome times that should he choose for some reason to not follow the haredi life-style, he won't be prepared for it? >> i'm not going to prepare him to leave something that i don't think he should be leaving. >> i can certainly understand
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the importance of torah study for the ultra-orthodox. but only one hour a day of secular studies, does that mean that israel is looking at a growing population who may not be able to find south america on a map? who may not know what the surface of mars looks like? or the basics of human anatomy? and if that's the case, what does that mean for the future of this country? back at the house dinner is almost ready. >> i think we are set. >> i guess we're just waiting for your eldest. >> we're going to start and he'll join us. >> some of their relatives have arrived to share the meal, and finally he returns exhausted after a long day of torah studies. >> the whole day we're thinking, when he comes home, that's when the real thinking begins.
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>> everyone was waiting for you. >> where is shmura? how was your day? you were able to learn? can't take that for granted. >> so, what did you learn about today? can you share? >> seat something while you're thinking about it. >> i feel like i've learned more about haredim in those couple hours than i have in all the books i've read. there is something so beautiful about their partnership, working together to fulfill the torah each in their own way. and yet i could tell he was exhausted at the dinner table. ten hours of torah study every day, except the sabbath.
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and when i left he picked up the talmud because he had two more hours of study to go before bedtime. as a father of three sons, i have to be honest with you. my heart was breaking for him. i don't know. before you set out, you plan to capture every moment. ♪ but what you really can't plan for is when the moment captures you. marriott now has 30 brands in over 110 countries. so no matter where you go, you are here. join or link accounts. knowing where you stand. it's never been easier. except when it comes to your retirement plan. but at fidelity, we're making retirement planning clearer.
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this is probably the most disputed piece of real estate in the world. the jews call it the temple mount. for muslims, it's haram a shari f, the noble sanctuary. it once housed the temple of jerusalem, but that was destroyed 2000 years ago. all that remains of it is the western wall, the kotel. many jews believe that the messiah will not return until the temple is rebuilt on this very spot. but that's a problem because currently it houses the dome of the rock, the third holiest site in islam. countless battles fought, countless lives lost over
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control of this holy space. a rabbi, a devout member of the orthodox community. he is also the deputy mayor of jerusalem. >> well, that's a view. >> wow. >> this is the holiest place in the world. >> do you understand the resentment that secular israelis have sometimes about the haredi community? people say, well, you're taking not giving? >> first of all, we think we're giving and not taking. when my son sits there for 12, 13 hours a day, right -- 20, 25
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years. studying again, writing and finding out, he's not giving list to the future of the jewish nation. he's contributing more than i did when i was in the army with the rifle. >> another issue is the role of women, particularly when it comes to this controversy that's been erupting over the last few years about the women at the wall. >> we are not against women. we are not trying to push out women. there is a difference between men and women praying. that is a traditional way of jewish way of doing it. whoever doesn't like it, let him pray somewhere else, no problem. >> there is a problem. the only thing that remains of the sacred temple, the wall or the kotel has become the holiest place for the jews to play. the majority of the wall is designated for men only. women may pray at a much smaller niche to the side. but there are a host of rules they are to obey. they are not allowed to wear the prayer shaul, they are not allowed to raise their voices for the men to hear on the other side. the boxes worn by observant
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jews. they are not allowed to read from or even touch the torah. for decades now, a group of devout jewish women have been struggling to change the status quo at the kotel. they call themselves, the women of the wall. do you feel as though it's a threat to traditional jewish values? >> no, we feel the women have their place, right? we don't think they're less important. but when you're coming and trying to change the jewish religion, that's not legitimate. the wall is not some kind of, you know, feeder, some kind of mole. it's a place to pray and the place to pray there's rules, how jews pray. they did that 100 years ago, 200 years ago. we are doing our style of life. it worked for thousands of years and it's going to keep on working. >> despite how deputy mayor sees
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things, members of the women of the wall continue to challenge the constraints imposed upon them by the strictly orthodox authority that administers the western wall. recently the government of israel tried to appease the women of the wall by creating an area next to robinson's arch for them to hold their prayers. while some call this progress, many women in the movement do not see it that way. after all, robinson's arch is more than 100 meters away from the wailing wall. it is not the kotel. this is where the haredim and even the mayor's office says you all should pray. we are technically at the wall, but it's not the kotel. the kotel is on that side of the bridge. >> jews all over wanted to pray there. this is the place. >> yeah.
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>> so, they cannot tell us just, you know, move over here. >> move over here. >> it's a feeling. it's not actually the stones. it's what you feel in your heart to the place. >> this is a conflict that's been going on for 20 years -- >> 27 years. >> 27 years. how did it begin? >> it began with a very small group of women that wanted to pray here with torah the way the men do, and they started to come here to the kotel and rabbis didn't know what to do with them. actually, they threw them out. the government said that if they are going to let this small group of women to pray in the kotel, it's going to have the feeling of all the other prayers here, and it's a big interference for the place. >> so, hurting feelings is an arrestable offense? >> yeah. the message to the jewish
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people, this is a place of punity, not a place of division. >> this isn't a fight about the wall, this is a fight about israel. >> i say israel society is not open to solve their own problems, it will never be open to solve other issues. brent: i posted something online and then my crazy right-wing uncle commented on it and we've been going back and forth ever since. phil: he's at it again. brent: this guy is a wingnut. phil: you can't reason with a hippie. brent: we're never going to agree. phil: we're never going to agree. paul: it sounds like this argument is eating up a lot of your data which is why sprint believes in an unlimited plan that everyone can afford. brent and phil: that works for me. phil: but not because it works for him. sprint's unlimited plan. $30 per line for four lines. for people with hearing loss, visit z2bg6z z10mz
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these ruins are what's left of the original temple after the romans destroyed it in the year 70, killing hundreds of thousands of jews, casting the survivors out of the land of israel for 2000 years. and the israeli narrative, the birth of israel in 1948 is the return of the jews back to their historic homeland. this is not the israel of 2000 years ago. things are changed. it's a secular world.
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it's a democracy struggling desperately to figure out what it means to be a jewish state, and whether that's even possible in the 21st century. the haredim don't want anything to change. but that's just impossible. change is inevitable. ♪ >> you get that? >> like a haredi fire drill. ♪
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>> these are the nanas, and believe it or not, they're ultra-orthodox jews. but not like any i've ever seen. they're not the misty cal branch of the haredim. the movement started in the '80s and followed the teachings of someone who lived 200 years ago. very little separates them from the haredim. they follow a strict interpretation of the torah. they, too, are exempt from military service. their men also do not work. they are supported by their wives. they espouse a strict segregation of genders.
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but while most haredi live in closed insular communities, they are out in the open, interacting with the secular world. ♪ they reject the traditional haredi belief that you can only get close to god through prayer and the study of the torah. they pray and study, but they also party. as you might imagine, most of the other haredim are not fans of the upstart sect. there are only about a thousand, a small fraction of the haredi community, but their numbers are growing. let me ask you guys, when you're going around and playing this music and dancing around, what are you trying to do when you do that? >> maybe to raise happiness. it is really important to --
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>> through happiness, you can serve god. you can talk to god. >> happiness is basic. it is the beginning of everything. >> may i do it with you? >> sure. >> let's go. ♪ >> ron and his crew agreed to let me tag along with them as they perform their daily evangelizing. >> did you come from a religious family? >> i came from a non-religious family. one day i saw a lot of guys dancing and i was blown out of my mind. i said, that's what i'm looking for. >> when i was a teenager, i started searching for my own unique personal path. i found my way to this path. >> what do they think about you? >> my brother is sort of a rabbi here in israel.
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he doesn't accept it as much as my parents. he's more the strict letter of the law. >> i came from a nonreligious family. but in my heart i feel like something is missing. when i was with my friends driving, one junction we stopped and i remember the speaker. the speaker said -- be happy always. and i said to myself, oh, i know what he's talking about. so, i decided to check him out. he died 200 years ago. >> one of the things i've been noticing since being here and talking to different people, both secular and haredim, i find a big gulf between them. do you guys feel like you can kind of be a bridge between these two groups?
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>> his teachings are for everybody. doesn't matter if you're christian or muslim or everybody. everyone can talk to god. he speaks english. it's okay. >> you are changing israel from the ground up. >> in time. >> you can get a better connection, you know? exactly. >> i am ready. this is unlike any jewish worship that i have ever experienced. we were stopping traffic in the middle of the streets. no one seemed to mind, except the haredi, of course. and the entire time we kept singing over and over and over
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again, na-na-na-ma-na-man based on the letters of the rabbi's name and the place of his death. there was no wall, no torah, no >> just pure, unadulterated happiness. na-na-na-na-na-na-na. while rabbi was buried in ukraine, the rabbi who took his teachings and turned it into a movement, he's buried here in jerusalem and his grave has become a sacred place for them among us.
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>> i think it was once said that god is not with the person who is sad, god hates the sad. but it's hard to be happy all the time, isn't it? >> you try really hard. i think the impression that a lot of people have about, you know, is that they're very devil and then, you know, you see you guys, it's a completely different impression. >> each one has to find his ways. of course, we must keep it, but inside we must find our own way. >> yep. your own way. >> when you say the word na-na-na-what does it mean for you? >> whatever it is na-na--na it's
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na-na-na- >> after a long day of spreading the message, we headed down to the woods for some alone time with god. am though we use the same prayer book, we do not pray in the same way. rabbi, loved being alone. he would go out into the woods or lake and he would just shout to god. >> and -- to be alone. making the personal relationship
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with god. i tell him thank you for the good thing that they're feeling and ask him for seeing that he want to get. >> all right. >> this idea that what god really wants for you is to be happy in my ways so foreign to my experience and the ultra orthodox, but maybe they're on to something. god knows with everything going on here in israel, a little happiness might not be such a bad idea. hi, now go away so i can have my alone time. ♪
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♪ >> spend enough time in israel and it's hard to be optimistic about the future. conflict between the alter orthodox and secular jews does not seem to be diminishing. there's no question with the changing israel. but when i look at them and the way that they have made ultra orthodox spirituality their own, i can't help but think that maybe it's israel that's changing the ultra orthodox and in that, there's hope.
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>> i believe there is good in everybody and that there is a force in the world that can bring out this good in all of us. >> i believe that god created the world with the goal of bringing it to ultimate goodness. kindly gave us the opportunity and the privilege to be part of it. >> i believe all people are interconnected and i believe that actually religion is the big divider. >> i believe they'll destroy each other in the name of their gods. >> i believe then the power of the person and power of god. if you look into believe in themselves and those who don't believe in god. >> i believe, even so, i'm not
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perfect. >> i feel jewish today. terror on palm sunday. isis claims responsibility for two blasts at christian churches that killed 47 people. >> and another busy week ahead for u.s. president trump in the wake of the u.s. missile strike on syria. but there are mixed messages coming from his administration. >> plus it all came down to one tie breaking hold, sergio garcia finally wins his first golf tournament. the new champion. hello, welcome, of course all around the world, i'm rosemary church. >> thank you very much for joining us. we're live on "cnn newsroom."


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